A more polished and entertaining second installment covers much of the same ground as the first.




In the second of Hoy’s (Darkness and Light: Rise of the Omans, 2015) fantasy series, humans may hold the key to the survival of powerful beings from another world.

Having suffered betrayal, Auron, king of the Omans, ordered his people, the children of Light, back to Sonos. They’re returning from two pieces of dark matter, Luna and Terra, where the Omans, hoping to create new light by igniting the cores, were overrun by the Darkness and its Hollowed Minions. There was a life-form, however, on Terra, and they call themselves Humans, who are inexplicably thriving without light. Auron believes that the Humans can create new light to assure his people’s continued existence. On Sonos, lead engineer Relix reveals that she saved a Human male and female, but because their fragile bodies can’t survive outside of Terra’s atmosphere, Auron’s determined to return to them to their home planet. The king assembles another crew, including Auron’s lightmate, Akina. The plan is to reignite the cores of both Luna and Terra, where they may once again have to face off against the Darkness and Hollowed Minions, who thrive on mercilessly extinguishing the Omans’ lights. Championed by the Protector, who watches over the children of Light, Auron and the rest, with any luck, will vanquish their enemies and secure their future by keeping the Humans safe. Hoy’s sophomore outing shows signs of improvement over the preceding novel. The cast, for starters, is more clearly delineated. Merek’s got eyes for cook Osheida and vies for her attention, and one individual finds a way onto the ship, defying the king’s orders to stay on Sonos. The series’ already apparent religious theme (Omans strive “never to surrender to the Darkness”) becomes more pronounced and perhaps a bit too transparent: the two comatose Humans are called Etam and Ayva. Hoy injects stellar genre elements, including griffins and unicorns, and loads the plot with a good number of battle scenes. The story often feels like a retread, however, as the Omans’ mission is essentially the same as the first: create new light on Luna and Terra while contending with/resisting the Darkness.

A more polished and entertaining second installment covers much of the same ground as the first.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-4510-6

Page Count: 257

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

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The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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